When setting up your inflatable pool, there are some fencing rules to consider if you want to avoid paying a fine or getting into trouble with your local law enforcement. I did some extensive digging, and found that each state has it’s own rules on pool fencing. Here’s a quick answer.
Yes, an inflatable pool needs a fence or barrier surrounding it to prevent accidental drownings. Most states and counties require any pool that is more than 18 inches deep be enclosed by a fence or barrier at least 4 feet high. This includes inflatable or temporary pools in a residential area.
There are many laws from the federal level down to the city level regarding pools and fencing requirements. I hope to sum this up for you, and give you a clear direction on what you need to do for your pool.
Inflatable Pool Barrier Laws
There are a few levels of pool barrier laws to consider. Usually the town or city level will be the most strict, but if the town or city has no ordinance, the county or state will. Here are the authorities that could have laws regarding your pool.
- Federal: The federal laws mostly cover public swimming pools run by a town or city.
- State: Many states have pool barrier laws requiring a barrier with a certain height and latching system.
- County: Some counties will have swimming pool laws for residential use pools.
- Town/City: Many cities have laws regarding residential pools.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commision has created a safety barrier guidelines for residential pools pdf document to help residential home owners create a safe environment for a swimming pool in an effort to reduce accidental drownings.
CPSC reports that child drownings are the second leading cause of accidental death around the home for children under 5 years of age. In some southern or warm weather states, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in the home for children under 5.poolsafely.gov Safety-Barrier-Guidelines-for-Residential-Pools.pdf (source)
Many states have laws regarding pool access and fencing or barrier requirements. For the majority of cases, these are the laws you will need to follow:
- Barrier around the pool at least 48″ high
- Self latching/self closing gate that swings away from the pool
- Latch on gate must be less than 54″ from the bottom of gate
- Latch must be more than 3″ from the top of the gate
- Gap between fence slats may not be greater than 4″
- Solid barriers may not contain indentations or intrusions
- Maximum chain link fence mesh size is a 1-1/4″ square
- Door alarms on all doors leading to the pool area
I recommend looking at your states website for any laws you need to follow as they may be different from what’s on my list. There’s a handy map you can use to find your state legislature websites at: https://www.congress.gov/state-legislature-websites
Here’s a quick video about portable pool safety.
How Deep Can A Pool Be Without A Fence?
In most areas, a pool can be less than 18″ and not need a fence or barrier surrounding it. Even for temporary or inflatable pools, if they are greater than 18″ tall or have more than 18″ of water in them, they will need a barrier 48″ tall and a self latching, self closing, gate surrounding them.
Only the smallest kiddie pools will not require a fence or barrier surrounding them. Most of these pools are for small children under 5 years old. They should still be under adult supervision while the pool is in use, and pool can be emptied after use.
These pools are small enough that emptying and refilling every use is recommended anyway to keep the pool water clean. Check out my How To Clean An Inflatable Pool article for more info on that.
Does An Above Ground Pool Need A Fence?
An above ground pool that is 48 inches high or higher may act as a barrier to pool entry. If a ladder or steps are used to access the pool, the ladder or steps must be surrounded by a barrier at least 48 inches tall with a self latching gate. A removable ladder is not acceptable as a barrier.
Here’s an excerpt from the BOCA National Building Code on barriers and fencing for swimming pools:
Where an above ground pool structure is used as a barrier or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a fixed or removable ladder or steps, the ladder or steps shall be surrounded by a barrier which meets the requirements of items 1 through 9 of section 421.10.1. A removable ladder shall not constitute an acceptable alternative to enclosure requirements. (source)
How Tall Does A Fence Have To Be Around A Pool?
Most states require a 4 foot (48″) fence around any pool deeper than 18″ and wider than 8 feet. A self closing, self latching gate, that opens away from the pool area with a latch less than 54″ from the bottom of the gate is also required.
Usually a fence surrounding a backyard is sufficient fencing for a pool. If there any doors that lead to the pool area, they must be alarmed doors to prevent people unknowingly entering the pool area.
Barriers, including a fence that completely surrounds the pool, alarms for the house or pool, and a power safety cover over the pool or spa, provide lifesaving layers of protection for children. Install a 4-foot fence around the entire perimeter of the pool or spa.poolsafely.gov barrier checklist for pool owners (source)
How Much Is The Fine For Not Having A Pool Fence?
The fine for not having a pool fence will vary by state and city. On the spot fines can range from $200 to $800 and penalties for non compliance with pool safety regulations for some states and counties can be well above $5000 in some cases.
You would need to contact your local city or county offices to get a more accurate number as the fines are different across the country. The best way to avoid paying these fines is to make sure your pool is properly fenced in according to your local laws.
Inflatable Pool Barrier And Fencing Tips
If you do find that you need to install a fence (and aren’t able to yourself) I suggest looking into HomeAdvisor Fences for a local company that can help you out.
Here are some safety tips for pool barriers and fencing that you could use to keep your family safe, and follow pool barrier laws.
- Never leave a child unattended in or near the water
- Contact local authorities for additional pool owner requirements
- Fence, cover, or empty smaller inflatable or portable pools
- Remove the ladder for large inflatable or above ground pools
- Doors leading to the fenced in pool area should have a door or pool alarm
- Install a 4 foot fence around the perimeter of the pool
- Use self closing and self latching gates
- Use a gate that opens out from the pool area
A lot of these rules and laws are put into place to protect swimmers and children. Most fatalities relating to pool drownings are children under 5 years old. Around 400 drowning deaths are reported on average every year. If everyone follows proper safety and pool fencing guidelines, we can help reduce these numbers.